Ask the Experts: The Feng Shui Consultant

Photo: Victor Prado/New York Magazine

Define feng shui in lay terms.
The literal definition means wind and water. Ancient Chinese farmers would harness these forces to position themselves in the best way to yield prolific crops, which would lead to wealth, health, and, inevitably, happiness. Today, the circumstances have changed but the desired outcome is the same. You want to create a vibrant life by increasing the energy flow and putting yourself in the commanding position.

Which is?
It’s the position of power. It’s never having your back to a door or an entrance because if someone comes in you’ll be startled. You don’t want to be vulnerable. You want to have a subconscious boost of support. It’s a physical principle that has psychological repercussions.

What are most of your clients seeking?
They want to clear out the clutter of their lives. They see me after a major life transition, like a new move. I help them get organized, create an efficient layout, and add life.

Sounds pricey.
For private and office consultations, I charge $200 per hour. Sessions usually last two hours.

What’s the biggest feng shui problem New Yorkers face?
Space. Real estate is at a premium here, whether you’re in a studio or large penthouse. Furniture needs to be multifunctional.

How can you create space where there is none?
Separate your working and sleeping areas. If you have a separate room for your office, just shut the door at night. If you’re in a studio apartment, shut down the computer, and get all imagery of work away from your sleeping area.

What else?
Eliminate clutter. Don’t just put it away, get rid of it entirely. Make sure your desk and bed are in commanding positions. Bring in elements of nature such as plants, crystals, or shells. Get an air filter or keep air circulating by opening the window.

What’s a common decorating misstep that can mess with a home’s feng shui?
Having dried or plastic flowers. Not only are they dust magnets with no vibrancy, but they attract and anchor low energy.

What’s a no-fail way of introducing good energy?
Bring in plants or flowers. There are many varieties, like snake plants, that require minimal care. Or visit the deli around the corner that sells cut flowers.

That’s almost too easy.
You can also use mirrors to reflect the best aspects of your space, like a beautiful view—not a pile of bills on your desk or your television. If your apartment is dark, add lights. But skip the fluorescents for a small living space. Add full spectrum bulbs that mimic natural light.

Let’s talk color.
Don’t paint your walls a color just because you read that it’s supposed to have good feng shui. Red is traditionally a power color, but if you hate it, you’re not going to feel very good.

Let’s say we love buying secondhand goods: Should we be concerned with inheriting someone’s bad mojo?
Besides the obvious concerns of germs and bed bugs, there is an aspect of picking up someone’s bad energy. Sustainable and green choices are encouraged in feng shui, so I often find great things for my home on Craigslist. If you love the item, cleanse it by burning sage and letting the smoke waft around it.

What will that do?
Smoke rituals have been around for thousands of years in many cultures. Smoke purifies and metaphorically cleans the space. I’m a big proponent of burning sage to clear the air after a breakup, illness, arguments, or just a bad feeling.

Trick of the Trade
“If you’re feeling overwhelmed, a calming thing to do is clear off the surfaces in your home. It does away with visual and, more importantly, psychological clutter.”

Ask the Experts: The Feng Shui Consultant